Written by: Arnold Furious
June 21st 2009. The seven year anniversary of TNA coming into existence. I remember that first show quite fondly. It was something new and different. Of course they peaked early with that show where Jeff Jarrett chair shotted a gun-toting midget. How do you best that?
We’re in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
King of the Mountain/X title – Suicide (c) v Jay Lethal v Consequences Creed v Alex Shelley v Chris Sabin
Like everyone else I don’t agree with them having two KOTM matches on the same show as it detracts from the main event. Guest belt holder is Curtis Granderson from the Tigers and he joins commentary. Don West claims he’s “his favourite baseball player of all time”. Haha. HEEEL! Two tag teams as the challengers as TNA don’t have anyone else in the X division. Everyone gangs up to try and eliminate Suicide. He promptly lays them all out with a ladder. Lethal gets laid out on the ladder and Suicide gets the pin to qualify to hang the belt. That was sudden.
The Guns are huge over as we’re just down the road from the Motor City. Suicide manages to use MCMG double teaming against them by anticipating double teams and allowing the partners to collide. Suicide pins Shelley too! He’s trying to get the numbers in his favour but Lethal is back out and fresh. Sabin tries to steal Lethal’s pin and they pile onto Suicide to get a pin. Who gets it? There were three guys on that pin. Lethal qualifies? A big gay celebration follows for all the tag guys. Lethal wants to hang the belt.
That’s stopped by the Guns who are the superior team. Sabin takes a spill over the top though and Shelley is caught with an RKO from Creed for the loss. Really? That’s what I dislike about these multiple pinfall matches. Most of the pins don’t feel legitimate. Like that first one on Lethal. Would that have happened in a singles match? Hell no.
Sabin recovers from his spill and gets monkey flipped into the ladder. Suicide is taking on everyone by himself again. The fight heads outside but Sabin sees it and runs across the top of the penalty box to dive onto them! Awesome spot. The Guns discover they’re not eligible so Sabin lies down for Shelley and takes the loss so Shelley can hang the belt.
Sabin’s mock complaint of a pull on his tights is fantastic. Suicide springboard dropkicks out of nowhere to save his title. Suicide is clearly damaged now as he can’t dodge stuff anymore. The match has taken its toll. Lethal gets treed on the ladder on the buckles so Suicide dumps Creed on the other end of it for some catapult action. Incredibly convoluted spot but Lethal took an evil bump off it. Sabin comes back in fresh and nails Lethal with a slick tornado DDT. Everyone is now eligible.
They start popping off finishers to keep people down, which Tenay fails to call. Air Raid Crash, slingshot DDT and Cradleshock happen while he’s rambling on about something or other. What happened to you, man? Was it TNA? Did they ruin you? Crowd wants Sabin to win and he has the belt. But he’s too slow and Lethal gets out of the box to stop him. Everyone lies around selling God knows what. Creed is still down selling the Air Raid Crash! That was AGES ago. Would he ever sell like that in a singles match? Hell fucking no. Someone set a ladder up on the barrier and Sabin gets knocked onto it. Lethal, presumably suffering some form of retardation, Savage Elbows Sabin off it. Thus ruling himself out of this as well as Sabin. Stupid. He was the only man standing. He could have hung the belt! Shelley breaks the Shiranui on the apron to eliminate Creed. Now its down to Shelley v Suicide. The champ dropkicks Shelley into the crowd. Suicide should take it but Lethal tips the ladder up. Suicide gets onto the penalty box to escape a fall. Oh, this is bad. Someone is going to get hurt. Lethal has to sit under the ladder like an idiot for the second time tonight. Shelley climbs with the belt but Suicide climbs along the other ladder an unbelievably contrived spot and RKO’s Shelley off the ladder. He hangs the belt to retain. ***. I give them props for high spots but they clearly ignored their audience and at least two of the biggest spots should never have happened. Plus there were huge gaping logic flaws based on selling that weren’t so prevalent in other matches of the same kind. In particular TLC where people tend to be eliminated by taking big spots making the selling more logical.
BACKSTAGE Shane Douglas unexpectedly quotes Ric Flair before saying he sets the standard around here. He also sets the standard for Wall-Mart management. Can you imagine having to work at Shane’s Wall-Mart? He’d be a fucking nightmare.
Shane Douglas v Daniels
Winner gets a roster spot. Shane wasn’t great the last time he was in TNA finishing up his run in 2007 and I honestly haven’t enjoyed his in-ring since his arm injury in 1998. But being 10 years past your best hasn’t stopped hundreds of other wrestlers carrying on. Its painfully obvious he’s out of shape here. He’s slow, he’s rusty and he doesn’t have a game plan to work around that. Everything seems awkward and slow. They try and work in some clever basic spots like Shane dropping down and Daniels just slapping on a headlock. But in reality they’re just papering over cracks. Shane works the arm extensively. That leads to a spot where he blocks the other arm to set for the belly to belly but Daniels just wants it more and headbutts out. BME finishes. *. It could have been far worse. I don’t see why they had to do this on PPV. Hell, Daniels is a cruiser. They could have stuck him in that opener. Shane has no business on PPV. Not in his condition.
BACKSTAGE Mick Foley talks about odds. He thinks Jeff Jarrett will back him up because, as founder, he shouldn’t be champion. So he’s got a 40% chance of winning. We should run those numbers by Scott Steiner. They spell disaster. Foley says if he wins tonight his next title defence is Bound for Glory…2010.
Even TNA aren’t that stupid.
Knockouts title – Angelina Love (c) w/The Beautiful People v Tara
Tara used to be Victoria in WWE. She basically retired from WWE and was considering an MMA career. That didn’t pan out and clearly TNA sent out feelers in an effort to improve their women’s division. She’s a veteran of women’s wrestling and a capable grappler with a cool finisher. Oddly enough Tara works WWE main event style. Mostly punching. The numbers game works in the champ’s favour. Angelina has shown improvement since winning the title and has added a tasty spinkick to her repertoire. Tara looks a bit rusty. Her timing is off on a few clotheslines. Tara decides 3 on 1 ain’t fair and she bails to lay out the two support girls. Madison sprays her in the eyes though and Angelina hits the Lights Out for the pin. *1/2. A little sloppy but its nice to see Lisa Marie Varon back in the ring.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl is belittled by Dr Stevie. She’s then creeped out by Raven. “You reek of sadness and that turns me on”. Eww. Normally I’m a sucker for his promos but Raven seemed more Bobcat Goldthwaite than Heath Ledger here. Not really sure what he was going for.
Monsters Ball: Raven/Daffney w/Dr Stevie v Abyss/Taylor Wilde
I like the dysfunctional family that they’ve built around Stevie Richards. Shame Raven’s return is only temporary but I guess there’s only limited space on the roster. Taylor seems out of place here as she’s a bit like Hayden on Heroes. Perky cheerleader. But she’s able to direct Abyss in the early going. That is until Stevie trips her up so Abyss presses Daffney onto him. Daffney tries a Princess Bride sleeper on Abyss so Taylor nails her in the back of the head with a trashcan lid. Abyss and Raven try to make this a fun brawl and Taylor & Daffney match that effort. Daffney gets set up on a table out by the lighting rig and Taylor splashes her through it off the wall of speakers. Dr Stevie interjects himself again with Raven about to lose. Abyss blades to sell the interference. Raven brings the signature drop toehold into the chair. It gets ‘hardcore’ after that with Raven just hitting Abyss with stuff. I think you need to vary the use of weapons to keep it interesting. Abyss starts no selling. They fuck up a chokeslam on the trashcan while Stevie prevents a pin. Taylor is thrown onto Raven and Stevie prevents the pin again. Abyss is forced to do something harsh; introduce a big old bag of thumbtacks. Abyss can’t bring himself to slam Daffney into the tacks so Taylor does it! OWWW. Damn, Daffers, that’s a hell of a spot to take. Stevie runs in to break the fall again. This gives Raven an opening; EVEN FLOW on the chair…for 2. Raven calls for the DDT again, this time into the thumbtacks, but gets countered into the BLACK HOLE SLAM on the tacks. Naturally that’s game over. ***. A notch above ‘entertaining crap’. Taylor & Daffney both brought the goods and everyone busted their asses out there. This is one for the X division to take note of; the high spots were properly spaced out. The selling made sense. And the pops for the big spots were appropriate. I know some people like that spot heavy style but this worked better for me.
Sidenote: I really wish TNA would use Raven to help other wrestlers plan out better matches. His ideas are a combination of what he learned in Memphis, WWE and ECW, which can be a potent mix. It incorporates storytelling with clever action and he’s one of my favourite storytellers. Shame TNA are so stuck in their ways booking-wise. Going ‘Old School’ with their feuds could freshen them up.
BACKSTAGE Jeff Jarrett is quizzed on the contradiction of not wanting to be champion but also wanting to take his company back. He says Foley is a walking time-bomb.
Sting v Matt Morgan
If Morgan wins he gets Sting’s MEM spot. Morgan thinks they won’t let him in because he’s never been world champion but Sting blames a lack of respect. Morgan dominates with his size and power. A recurring issue with Morgan is that despite Sting’s popularity Morgan can’t make this whole section of the match interesting. He just grinds away with rest holds. Which is the kind of thing that TNA has avoided doing for years and it just seems out of place. Sting mixes his offence up in response. Kicking the legs of the big man and hitting a missile dropkick. He then walks right into the Carbon Footprint for 2. They totally fuck something up. Not even sure what they were going for. Sting just kinda fell. Sloppy Scorpion Deathdrop follows for 2. Tenay blames Morgan’s height on that not looking right. Morgan powers out of the Scorpion Deathlock, which makes sense. Sting uses the ropes to aid him on another Scorpion Deathdrop for the win. **1/4. Honestly Morgan brought nothing outside of his size to this. Sting worked the match around him not with him. To Sting’s credit this didn’t suck.
BACKSTAGE Interview Girl suggests to AJ & Joe that they may have an advantage by teaming up in the main event. AJ says the Originals are taking the company back. Joe points out he’s taken down the Mafia and now he’s come full circle. He says “we” will become the most powerful force in the history of professional wrestling. But what “we” does he mean? You’d assume he and AJ. But you’d assume wrong.
Tag titles – Team 3D (c) v Beer Money
These guys briefly had a run of mutual respect, which ended as soon as Beer Money won this title shot. 3D were in Osaka last night defending the IWGP titles, which is a huge trip to make ahead of a big match. 3D has looked inconsistent in TNA and frustratingly so. Beer Money brings some welcome consistency opposite them here. 3D has better teaming in the early going with Bubba bringing the focus. D-Von just keeps getting picked off. Looks like his jetlag is worse. Tags go out the window and Bubba continues to dominate the match. An Enzuigiri stops the 3D but Waaasssuuup headbutt connects. Team 3D really are bossing the double teams. Detroit wants tables. Is this no DQ? They set one up at ringside but that just allows Beer Money time to recover. Double suplex. BEER! MONEY! British Invasion shows up and both Brutus & Douglas get on commentary. This feels like Impact. Tagging comes and goes, which renders heat segments meaningless. The Brits interjecting on commentary is distracting although Doug makes good points about the lack of tagging. D-Von gets double teamed some more and again Bubba saves him with double teams. Beer spit goes wrong. 3D on Roode but Rob Terry has the ref distracted. BUBBA DIVES OFF THE TOP ONTO THE BRITS! Doug gets tabled. D-Von is left alone to get hit with the DWI. **1/2. Wasn’t feeling this one. D-Von seemed strangely sluggish and the huge interference angle with the Brits was unnecessary. As if TNA didn’t think these guys could have a good match by themselves and were too eager to rush into the next angle because they’re hot on the British Invasion.
BACKSTAGE Crazy Old Man Angle is asked about the wrath of Samoa Joe. He says this is nothing to do with anyone else in the title match. Its about him and Joe. He also lays down a cryptic “we will be celebrating”. So just in case you missed Joe hinting at turning heel and joining Angle there’s Kurt to confirm it.
King of the Mountain II/TNA title – Mick Foley (c) v AJ Styles v Samoa Joe v Jeff Jarrett v Kurt Angle
Lots of stuff happening here. Jarrett claims he doesn’t need the belt but he’s never lost KOTM. AJ is Legend’s champion and feels its him or Joe to get the company back where it belongs. Foley thinks Jarrett will back him up. Basically there are lots of possible allegiances. The one no one expects is Angle-Joe, which is what this is all about and has been ever since Joe beat Angle for the title @ Lockdown. BUT since then TNA has done a wonderfully bad job of ruining Joe’s character. Making him a disrespectful jackass who maims people rather than the wrestling machine he was beforehand. Angle is sporting a Pittsburgh Penguins shirt for cheap heat but he is from Pittsburgh so its not 100% cheap like Edge & Christian’s sports team abuse.
Joe immediately wails on Angle provoking a MASSIVE babyface reaction and Joe has been thrown out? Of a no DQ match? Kurt Angle is already eligible because Joe got disqualified. That’s retarded. Foley isn’t. He just stands around outside. He doesn’t feel he needs to get involved. He just hangs back. Crowd respects that and chants “Foley” while AJ & Jarrett double team Angle. I guess AJ feels Jarrett has shown himself to be generally in favour of the TNA Originals so he feels he can team with him. Foley comes in and pulls Jarrett on top of him for the pin. See, he feels that Jarrett isn’t going for the belt and he wants to just sit and take a break early. Of course he’s INSANE but that’s the character.
Foley gets out, Joe slaps him in the Koquina Clutch and once again Foley’s madness kicks in. This time, instead of just tapping out and taking the meaningless penalty box period, he lets himself get choked unconscious. What the fuck is he thinking? Joe is qualified anyway and he gets the ladder because he’s serious about winning. Or he seems that way, anyway.
See, Joe suplexes Angle on a ladder. From his actions its clear that Joe hates Angle. Wants him not just beaten but injured. Like the rest of the MEM. That’s the storyline they’ve been running ever since Nash baseball batted the title off Joe. Its only when Foley comes out of the penalty box that Joe is stopped from hanging the belt. Everyone looks hurt out there. Joe takes a nasty bump onto the ladder, so did Kurt and Joe bumps Foley onto the ladder too. AJ has a bad ankle. So only Jarrett looks 100%. Not even the ladder is healthy. Jarrett has to get a new one, which gives Angle enough time to come back in. The biggest problem in this match has been the LACK of co-operation. Everyone is fighting each other. Foley has a plan but God alone knows what it is. There’s been a lack of storytelling during the match. Jarrett seems best equipped for the match. He uses the ladder better and grabs his guitar. GUITAR FOR ANGLE! Foley joins Jarrett up the ladder and ASKS for the belt! He thinks Jarrett will just give it to him! He doesn’t but AJ takes any further decision away by springboarding into the ladder. Foley seems to have forgotten that he isn’t qualified. Foley & AJ head onto the top of the penalty box. AJ nearly falls off and threatens a suplex onto the announce table before Foley shoves him into the ring. He looks badly hurt now. They head into a finishers sequence and Foley is still on the penalty box – CACTUS ELBOW ONTO ANGLE for 3. Great spot for Mick. He’s qualified.
Foley has kicked back and just waited for a chance. AJ & Joe finally start to coexist. But its Joe who uses AJ as a weapon. AJ pins Foley on the floor after being thrown over the top by Joe but at what cost? None, apparently. He pops right back up to stop Jarrett. The belt falls as they scuffle and AJ finds himself on top of the ladder with no belt. Bummer. Now AJ & Joe fight, which makes no sense to me. Is everyone else THAT incapacitated that they only have each other to beat? Angle has hardly been involved. He’s been taking extended breathers. Foley & AJ fight to the floor and Joe is alone. AJ stops him with his sheer babyface determination and its Joe battling AJ. And shouldn’t that be TNA’s goal here? Get the belt on one of them and have the other one get upset about it? STYLES CLASH ON ANGLE. He’s just a punching bag out there. Crowd is EXTREMELY pro-AJ. Joe powerbombs him off the ladder though. Joe & Angle go up and Joe hands the belt to Angle to complete the ridiculous heel turn. Angle reclaims his title. **3/4. I’m sure you already know where I stand on having Joe chase the MEM for 6 months then turn heel and join them (that’d be like sticking DDP in the nWo or Dusty Rhodes in the Horsemen). Hell, I wasn’t pleased with Foley getting the belt in the first place as it screwed up the potential for winning the title back but now they’re stretching it out further. Putting the belt back on Angle is just taking us back to square one. Only now instead of having two over babyfaces who can potentially take the title from him you’ve got one challenger (AJ) who now has a major gripe with the other who’s turned heel and they still have to get the Legend’s title off him to free him up for Angle. So that leaves you with no contenders. Unless you consider throwing Foley back in because of the old re-match clause.
On the extras there’s a great bit where Daffney stays in character while having thumbtacks removed from the back of her head. She’s laughing, the mentalist!
Final Thoughts: This felt like a PPV run in second gear. It wasn’t even a bad show. I quite enjoyed everything. But “quite” isn’t a word you really associate with getting the most out of a pay show. I can quite enjoy Impact and that’d be a bonus. But when the PPV rolls round it has to deliver. Either on a few undercard bouts or at the very least the main event. Especially with all the talent they had here. Based on his match on this show I’d love to see Raven book the entire of TNA. Spots mean more, the storytelling would be more consistent and we’d go from A to B and a pay-off would arrive. Because that’s what happened in the Monster’s Ball match, by far the most satisfying match on this card. The booking on everything else is just a waste of time. Setting up matches that never happen, booking long term programs with no pay off, killing months of slow-burn booking with silly swerves and writing your best characters into a bunch of jerks.